MUSIC = 2.5/5
SOUND = 2.5/5
LISTEN TO ANY of Peter Posa’s big hits from the early ‘60s and they still surprise. Posa pioneered a new kind of instrumental guitar sound down here in the colonies, and although those tracks are the signature sound of a moment in time – a sadly brief moment where instrumental pieces could be successful chart fodder – they’re still entertaining more than half a century later.
But the ‘beat groups’ of the so-called British Invasion put paid to that, leaving surf music in America and the instrumental music of groups like The Shadows high and dry, as teens gravitated to the energy and sexuality of rock and roll.
Which makes this album all the more ironic, really. Posa must have been gritting his teeth while cutting these sides in the mid-‘60s, knowing that the very bands he was covering had pulled the rug out from under his Winklepickers.
It would have been interesting had a local historian penned a history-cum-analysis of this part of Posa’s career, but this Sony release (compiled by Grant Gillanders) manages a simple, short timeline. It needs some context, because really, it’s far from Posa’s best work, and compared to a song like ‘The White Rabbit’, his playing her sounds rather dull and perfunctory. On the work that established his name, the sound is full of character and spirit, and he’s picking like a motherfucker, not just blandly playing melodies.
Although it’s a forgivable bit of creative license, the title is also a misnomer. I guess someone out there will correct me when they tie the traditional folk song ‘Silver Threads And Golden Needles’ into the British Invasion, but to me it doesn’t quite belong, and there are all those British hits that also don’t seem to quite fit, like ‘My Boy Lollipop’ (as performed by Millie Small but originally written and performed by The Cadillacs in 1950s America) and the very un-rock and roll ‘Downtown’ and ‘Stranger On The Shore’ (Acker Bilk, fergoodnessake!)
I guess like every compile of Kiwi recorded pop history, this Peter Posa collection is worth digging up for the public record, and those who just have to have any and every cover version of hits around that era, but it’s hardly the way most of us want to remember one of our best guitarists. GARY STEEL
[Note: Gary Steel reserves the right to reappraise and alter his star ratings up or down at any time].